What type of "sinners prayer" do i use to convert someone to Catholicism?

Many online protestant evangelists get people to recite the “sinners prayer” when someone wants to become a christian. It goes something like this:

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Amen.”

Now, if Protestants believe people can be saved alone by faith in Jesus (and Catholics believe in faith in Jesus + good works or is it repentance?) how do i alter the above prayer for converting someone to Catholicism? What do i add in?

In addition to saying you must believe in jesus and accept him as your savior …do I add in something like: “You must repent” or “You must also do good works”. Whats the best way to phrase this?

I know a “sinners prayer” is not a magic bullet or an alternative to being baptized, but i want to put it into words for the person what they must now do if they are to consider themselves a true christian as Jesus would want them to be. Whats the best way to phrase it in words?

There is no single golden phrase that makes one Catholic. Catholics are formed in the faith, not brought in using a one sentence formula. If you know someone who is interested the Church/being Catholic you should encourage him to talk to his local parish about entering RCIA. In RCIA he will learn about the faith and discern if being Catholic is what he should do. Most people go through the entire program as either catechumens (unbaptized people wishing to be Catholic) or as candidates (persons baptized in other Christian ecclesial communities who wish to be Catholic).

As Della alluded to, the magic phrase would be, “How can I join the RCIA?” To have its fullest effect, this magic phrase must be spoken to a priest or employee at the nearest local parish. :wink:

What we look for in potential Catholics is their regularity in attending Sunday Mass, evidence of an active prayer life, their willingness to believe what the Church teaches without picking and choosing what they like or don’t like, and a willingness to undergo the Rites and other processes involved with the RCIA.

People who are still discerning whether they want to become Catholic are also welcome to join the RCIA, with no expectation that they “have to” become Catholic at the end of it.

But before i can get them to even consider going to a church, i’ll need to tell them what they will need to do to be considered a true catholic. I need 1 or 2 sentences to sum up the basic principle of what a catholic is (before they then go and do their more in depth research).

Will i tell them something like: “You must accept Jesus as your savior, and repent from your sins”. Is that a good summation of Catholicism? I know this doesn’t cover all of being a Catholic, but i’m talking about a simple summation here.

For example, if someone was evangelizing ordinary people on the street, and a person on the street asks the preacher “what do i have to do to become a Catholic?” - What simple answer would i give them there and then on the spot that would give a simple summation of what they will need to do to be a Catholic.

Ah.

So then you want them to say, “I believe that Jesus created me to know Him fully, to love Him fully, to understand how to do His work here on earth, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. I understand that He made it possible for me to get to Heaven by dying for my sins, by rising from the dead to open up the gates of Heaven, and by establishing His Church to teach me and guide me. I want to be part of His Church so that I can be able to know Him, love Him, and serve Him with my whole heart and mind. How do I join the RCIA?”

When Jesus sent out his Apostles he told them to teach, baptize and make believers. He said nothing at all about accepting him as a personal savior–that’s an Evangelical phrase found no where in the Bible.

No, you tell him he is to be baptized (if he isn’t) and be confirmed–that is how one becomes a Catholic. He should read and accept the Nicene Creed and assent to the teachings of the Church. As I wrote before simply telling someone to accept Jesus as his savior and/or repent of his sins make one a Catholic. As jmcrae confirmed, tell him to join RCIA at his local parish. In it he will learn all he needs to know to become Catholic.

Well, having him read the Baltimore Catechism would be okay, but no. You don’t tell him all that. Catholics don’t evangelize people “cold.” We let them approach us with their questions/interest and give them resources for them to research and be a friend. We don’t believe that if we can’t get them to say a particular prayer that they will be damned–that’s the Evangelical approach, and why they insist people pray the “I accept Jesus as my personal savior” prayer. God works with people over time–throughout the whole of our lives, not simply by having us recite one prayer and we’re done. Catholicism is a way of life, something to be practiced, and that takes all we have and are, so it’s a process not an instantaneous one-time decision. RCIA helps people sort these things out, so they know what they’re getting into and the commitment it requires.

We call that The Creed.

There is nothing anti Catholic about this prayer. A Catholic can pray this every day.

Protestants believe as Catholics do, that we are all saved by grace, through faith. Those Protestants that are still connected with the teachings of the Apostles also believe, as Catholics do, that our faith in Christ will be made manifest in our lives through producing good fruit.

The prayer itself is a prayer of repentance. What a person needs is faith formation, so they can better understand how to live out the faith.

Most Protestants will respond better to scripture. It would be more useful to go over the passages about baptism with them, so they understand the necessity of it. Many Protestants already have a valid baptism, so they can go to RCIA and prepare for confirmatuon.

That is what RCIA is all about. Maybe you should go too. :wink:

You can invite them to CAF we will be happy to help with their research. :smiley:

I recommend you read Catholicism for Dummies.

It is also helpful to tell them that the CC was founded by Christ, and it is the Church that is written about in the New Testament.

Anything that is written in the New Testament will be a good summation of Catholicism, since it is written by, for, and about Catholics.

You will not find any concept that one must accept Jesus as their personal lord and saviour. That is a modern evangelical invention.

I recommnd that you read Peter’s sermon on Pentecost in the book of Acts. It is a good Catholic summation.

Of course I agree completely. You can’t become Catholic by deciding in a moment. It’s a process of becoming, that is undertaken through the prayers and liturgical actions of the RCIA as well as through Catechism classes at the Church. And I hope it didn’t seem as if I thought someone would need to know the Baltimore Catechism in order to be a good Catholic, but the first lesson seems like a good starting place.

What YOU are looking for is a prayer that “Opens the Door”
for the person to the Catholic Faith. The Sinners Prayer is
a good point to start, we are ALL sinners in need of a Savior,
the only thing is that it is also a Process whereby we open
the door of our hearts to Christ EVERY TIME we hear Him
knocking(Rev. 3:20) and invite Him in to our lives BY PRAYER.
Also, it TAKES A CHURCH to grow a Christian, have him
attend mass w/ you and meet other Christians who will befriend
him and PRAY FOR HIM in his “Christian walk”, and RCIA is
the best place for him to get the spiritual nourishment to GROW
in the faith.

It seems like the goal of the first part of the Evangelical Prayer is something analogically like the Act of Contrition, while the second half is a Confession of Faith.

If you wished to preform a Catholic version of that prayer, which first acknowledges the person’s sinfulness, then askes for mercy, and finally assents the soul to Divinely revealed Truths, I recommend praying the Act of Contrition followed by either the Apostles’ or the Nicean Creed. Honestly, as far as I am aware, a Protestant shouln’t even have a problem with the wording of those prayers.

There are so many prayers throughout the ages that share the same purposes in our tradition, and if you wish to find them, you should look into reading the Church Fathers and Doctors.

Christi pax,

Lucretius

:thumbsup:

Jon

How do we altar the above prayer?

I don’t see that we would need to but why not try this very short prayer which is part of both Catholic and Orthodox tradition:-

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Actually, this is a great prayer and the only real difference between most Protestants and Catholics is the fact that many Protestant evangelists will preach that this prayer is a ONE TIME event in a repentant sinner’s life and a Catholic will say that this prayer is applicable to every single day of a Christian’s life. These words should be on our lips when we rise in the morning and as we turn out the lights at night. Conversion is about constantly reorienting our lives to align with Christ. The bigger our ship of sinful living is, the longer it’s going to take to turn that ship. I see no need to alter the prayer. Following up with faith formation is what is needed.

Now, if Protestants believe people can be saved alone by faith in Jesus (and Catholics believe in faith in Jesus + good works or is it repentance?) how do i alter the above prayer for converting someone to Catholicism? What do i add in?

The bolded and underlined part above concerns me for two reasons: (1) The prayer does not need altering (as previously stated) and (2) There seems to be an undertone in your question that you will be converting someone. That’s not your job. That’s is the job of the Holy Spirit.

The only job you have is to live your Catholic Christian life in such a way that people you associate with will be drawn to the enthusiasm, confidence, and peace you have in your own faith.

Further, when conversing with someone of an evangelical bent, PLEASE don’t start out saying, “Catholics believe you are saved by faith and works…” because that is NOT true. Catholics believe you are saved by grace and by continuing to cooperate with grace. Faith and works are the result of cooperating with God’s grace throughout our lives. Frankly, Protestants and Catholics are truly more alike in practice in regards to their view of works and their role in our Christian lives that most realize on either sides. Each side has different views of grace and how it operates in our lives. That’s where the misunderstandings originate.

In addition to saying you must believe in jesus and accept him as your savior …do I add in something like: “You must repent” or “You must also do good works”. Whats the best way to phrase this?

I know a “sinners prayer” is not a magic bullet or an alternative to being baptized, but i want to put it into words for the person what they must now do if they are to consider themselves a true christian as Jesus would want them to be. Whats the best way to phrase it in words?

I would say, “You must abide in Christ.”

When they ask what that means, you can then go into detail about repentance, holiness, the Sacraments, etc.

Use Jesus’s own words as often as possible :smiley:

It’s certainly possible to get started by making an act of contrition and faith. But like in the cases of Cornelius, Paul, and others in the Bible, this needs to be completed by baptism, instruction, and the laying on of hands (aka confirmation/chrismation) by the Apostles (or their successors) or the ones appointed by them.

As someone mentioned earlier, there is no singular phrase that will convert someone on the spot.

Whenever the situation has come up with myself and others, I find it best to give them some information that they can choose to pursue or not. Often this is something very small involving one or two saints. Or maybe various miracles attributed to Our Lady and the Rosary. This I have found, piques their interest even more. From there, it is on them to seek out further knowledge.

Great post slh. :thumbsup:

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